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NBA BASKETBALL June 14, 2002
Exclusive Eric Williams Interview

 


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InsideHoops.com's Jeff Lenchiner, New York City basketball street legend (in his own mind, no one else's) met Eric Williams of the Boston Celtics, and talked about various stuff. Williams stepped up his game this season, and his rugged play helped Boston achieve their success. This interview took place in New Jersey during the 2002 Eastern conference finals. Williams grew up in Newark, which isn't far from the Nets arena.

InsideHoops.com: So how's it feel playing right near your home town?

Eric Williams: It's cool, you know, man, this is the first time I've been in the playoffs, to get a chance to play for a championship, be in the Eastern conference finals, to be playing against New Jersey, where I grew up at, family, friends, who have helped me get to where I'm at, to show that appreciation and hard work in front of them, it feels good.

InsideHoops.com: During the game, do you think about that you know all these people in the crowd

Eric Williams: You can't help but to think about it, that you're going to have a lot of people that probably know you or have known about you that, even fans that's not rooting for you, but they know I represent New Jersey, they can identify where I'm at, and looking up to an individual like myself who came from the inner city and who made it.

InsideHoops.com: When someone like myself plays pickup ball, youc an't help to notice who is on the sideline, do you totally tune that out?

Eric Williams: Well, you're just playing basketball, man, so like you'll be in the playground, and guys will just be watching you play, and you do a move or make a play... that's just basketball, man, you just gotta go out there and have fun with it, and hopefully, you gotta get the fans into it, because you know the fans are coming out there and appreciating the way you play, you can give them some kind of feedback, just a glance or a look or a smile or a point, with a finger, the fans really appreciate stuff like that, and that's a memory that lasts forever.

InsideHoops.com: How young were you when you started playing basketball, did you start really young?

Eric Williams: No, I didn't play ball until 12th grade, basketball came late to me...

InsideHoops.com: What were you playing?

Eric Williams: Baseball. I played baseball, and that's pretty much it. Basketball came late, this was, basketball was the sport that I tried to master, I kind of mastered baseball, so basketball was one of those things where I wanted to master this game, so that's why I probably play it the way I do.

InsideHoops.com: How'd you get turned on to basketball?

Eric Williams: My mom, my mom was just a basketball fanatic, she knows everything, she's a Georgetown University fan, always liked Patrick Ewing, later became a Knick fan, and still is a Knick fan to tell the truth, and she always had the game on at the house, whenever I'd come in... once I grew from 6'1" to about 6'6", by that time I was going into 12th grade, and that's when I started wanting to play basketball, because, pretty much basketball players always got the girl, and, you know what I mean, and it was a sport played in the winter months, in school, and mostly all the guys who played basketball was pretty much the in crowd, and I just picked the game up like that.

InsideHoops.com: And who made you good, besides yourself and your own hard work?

Eric Williams: The city of Newark, playing in the streets of Newark, I never played organized basketball, I always played in the street, and just playing all the guys that always played basketball in the street, from the youngest to the street legends...

InsideHoops.com: Who'd you play with that I might know, and who that I wouldn't?

Eric Williams: Well you know I played with guys like Anthony Avent, Anthony Mason, these guys were pretty much New York, in the city, New York and Newark area... guys you probably won't know are Antonio, they called him "Dutney" - because he'll do you - Neglee, a black man, Reggie Collins... these guys, pretty much street legends, could probably play in the NBA right now.

 

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